PHIL 210 University of Manitoba Royces Claim about the Moral Insight Paper

Phil 210

University of Manitoba


Question Description

I’m working on a Writing exercise and need support.

Choose ONE !!! of the following on which to write:

Word count at least 750

  1. Why do you admire or not admire the actions of Captain Vere? Is he to be praised for his commitment to duty or blamed for not seeing an obvious exception to the rules in the person of Billy Budd? (Melville)
  2. Assess Royce’s claims about the moral insight. In what ways does his essay mesh with the Parable of the Good Samaritan? (Luke 10: 29-37)
  3. Do you think most people are concerned about their good reputation or their self-respect? Which is harder to live without? Why? (Nietzsche and Didion)

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Lecturette #2 The second unit of our course continues the twin themes of good and evil. The five essays that comprise this unit range over a variety of thinkers who want to call attention to our duties to others and ourselves. When thinking of our duties to our fellows we might consider the question, what do we owe each other? The writers you are reading who best exemplify this view are Royce, Gansberg, and Melville. On the other hand, some of this unit’s thinkers argue that our first duties are to ourselves if we have any hope of being truly moral, e.g. Nietzsche and Didion. ROYCE Josiah Royce gives us an expanded version of the golden rule when it comes to how we should view our neighbors. Like Hallie, Royce thinks we should get out of the business of trafficking in abstract theories about the moral life. For him, ethics is personal because it is here that we can teach humane behavior in concrete cases. Royce wants us to see what we are doing when we injure other people. When we come to realize that our neighbors are selves just like us we will stop treating them as objects to be used for our benefit. This is Royce’s meaning when he talks about the moral insight. It is a kind of enlightenment or an epiphany that hits us full on when we have a moral vision that holds tight to the sentiment, “such as that it is for me, so it is for him (her), nothing less.” MELVILLE “Billy Budd,” by Herman Melville steers us into the murky waters of moral dilemmas. A moral dilemma is the strain that is felt by our encounter with two equally attractive and rational points of view. By way of counter-example, finding a wallet filled with cash that also has the owner’s identification does not constitute a moral dilemma. The right thing to do in this case is obvious, at least for most people. However, a moral dilemma is being in the difficult position of choosing between right and right. Many of the moral problems we encounter have this quality. This is what makes the “Billy Budd” story so compelling. The dilemma is, of course, whether Billy should be executed for striking a superior officer, as British Naval Law prescribes. After all, he is a decent fellow with but one character flaw, viz. a propensity for outbursts of anger. Further, the man he struck and killed (Claggart) is notoriously bad and despised by everyone. A more cynical approach suggests that Billy has done humanity a favor by killing Claggart. But the dilemma emerges from Captain Vere’s rigid commitment to duty and the rules of the British Navy. He deems Billy a likeable person but notes that we cannot make room for such sentiments in our moral judgments. He warns the tribunal (jury) judging Billy’s case not to let “warm hearts rule over cool heads.” This case also poses the problem of when we might, if ever, make exceptions to our moral rules. As one person has asked, can any moral system be mature if it does not allow for exceptions? But Billy’s story might also reveal something of our own ethical prejudices. What if the roles were reversed and it had been Claggart who killed Billy? We would feel the same level of discomfort about sending him to the gallows as we might for Billy? Does the fact that Claggart is such a distasteful person carry any weight in our considerations of how he should be treated? Are we, because of these prejudices, more likely to be generous with Billy and harsher toward Claggart? As Melville wants us to see, moral dilemmas are prickly and messy by their very nature. NIETZSCHE AND DIDION The essays by Nietzsche and Didion move us to a way of thinking about the moral life that emphasizes attending to and nurturing our personal identities. Nietzsche employs a style that is meant to be off putting and alarming. He loves shocking us by challenging the traditional categories of good and evil. He thinks of these as artificial and contrived as opposed to normative. If we are to be truly moral we must get beyond what has been imposed on us by traditional values. In Nietzsche’s view most of us would qualify as moral cowards because we do not really have the courage of our convictions. Rather, we tend to cave in to the pressures of the crowd or what he calls the herd. Ethics is better described along the lines of master morality and slave morality. From Nietzsche’s perspective most of us are slaves to the mass opinion of society as opposed to be being genuinely freed from society’s demands. He thinks we must come to this conclusion if our values are to be of our own choosing. Otherwise the values we adhere to are not our own but someone else’s. The very definition of a value demands this perspective since values cannot be called such if we do not freely embrace them. Hence, religion (especially Christianity), and traditional political/social arrangements are the arch enemies of the genuinely moral person. Didion takes much of her inspiration from Nietzsche. If we are to be people of character we must rid ourselves of the passive virtues (belonging to Phi Beta Kappa, having the love of a good man, clean hair, good manners, and competence on the Stanford-Binet scale) and return to an ethos of self-respect. When we give too much attention to what others expect of us we cannot be very good self-respecters. Hence, the questions, “Do you think more people are concerned about their good reputation or their self-respect? Which is harder to live without?” Take note of the three criteria Didion prescribes for being good self-respecters. These are: being driven back upon ourselves, sleeping in the beds we make, and seeing character as the source of self-respect. At the end of the day Nietzsche and Didion want us to be masters of our fates and the captains of our souls. Both would argue that to accomplish this daunting task we must be free from the expectations of others and adhere to a set of values that are truly our own. ...
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Final Answer


Running head: PHILOSOPHY


Philosophy: Royce’s Claim about the Moral Insight
Institution Affiliation



Royce, in most of his work in the teachings on moral insight, holds a concept that is of a
moral understanding that our neighbor is a core experience just like us. The realization of this
statement indicates that it conforms to a common statement that requires us to treat others as we
would desire them to treat us. This shows or explains how our actions and, in many cases, our
talks have an impact on other people. He adds that it is not enough to show sympathy or pity for
another, but we should also have a moral responsibility to other people through this concept, he
refers to us the moral insight. In general, understanding this means we should do good unto
others as we would unto ourselves. This moral concept explains further that the moment we
come to the full realization of our neighbor, we ...

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